Media Reform

The Media Reform program seeks to preserve the freedom and independence of Israeli media in the face of growing stresses on the business model of traditional journalism and mounting pressures from government regulators and special interests. It is guided by the belief that an independent press is essential to a vibrant democracy and an engaged and informed civil society. The team works to advise policymakers and opinion shapers on these issues, shape new media regulations, and promote a code of journalistic ethics for the age of digital media.

Recent efforts have been directed at helping officials design Israel's new broadcasting authority, reforming Israel's censorship regulations, developing a new code of journalistic ethics for the information age and proposing measures to boost transparency and limit subliminal advertising.

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    Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler

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    Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler is a senior fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute and head of the institute’s Media Reform Program and Democracy in the Information Age Program.

    She holds a doctorate in law (LLD) from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and completed her post-doctoral studies at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. 

    She is a board member of the Israel National Press Council, a board member of the Israeli Digital Rights Movement, a board member of the Center for Ethics in Jerusalem and a member of the Supreme Council of Archives of the State of Israel.

    In recent years, Dr. Shwartz Altshuler has composed the journalistic code of ethics for Israel’s public broadcasting corporation (“Kan”) and for the Globes business newspaper; drafted a bill for a new privacy law in Israel; and appeared regularly in the Israeli and international media on issues relating to media, technology, democracy, and human rights. She has also published a number of books, articles, policy studies, and expert opinions on these subjects.

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    Dr. Rachel Aridor-Hershkovitz

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    Dr. Adv. Rachel Aridor Hershkovitz is a researcher in the Israel Democracy Institute’s Media Reform program and a research fellow at the Haifa Center for Law and Technology at the University of Haifa.

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    Dr. Asaf Wiener

    Research Associate

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    Dr. Guy Lurie

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    Dr. Guy Lurie is an attorney and holds a PhD in History from Georgetown University (2013). He a former coordinator of the Shamgar Commission for the Formulation of Rules of Ethics for Members of the Government, and served as a post-doctoral fellow on the Faculty of Law at the University of Haifa.

A fictional tale of the very real danger in the absence of global regulation of AI.

We have entered an era of "digital antisemitism." It is driven, first and foremost, by the insufficient enforcement of moderation policies on social media platforms

The allegations against Israeli cyber-security company NSO have made international headlines. How could this affect the ‘Startup Nation?’

When we struggle during election campaigns to enforce a rule against use of private data and building profiles of users in order to target them with personalized messages, we are essentially fighting for the rights of the community of older voters

The essence of breach of trust is a conflict of interests in which decision-makers may find themselves when dealing with public matters. And we should pause to consider this conflict of interest, on the public level no less than on the criminal level

In 2016, Israelis’ trust in the mass media reached an all-time low. But the decline seems to have bottomed out then; the increase in trust registered in 2017 has continued this year and reached 31%. This is still low as compared to many other institutions, but is all the same an improvement.

Israel's 2018 Democracy Index, an annual survey of the health of Israeli democracy, shows off the deepest contradictions in Israeli life. Prof. Tamar Hermann explains why half the country thinks democracy is endangered but half do not, why the left-right divide is now seen as the most threatening division in Israeli society, but the number of Israeli Jews who think things are going well has been rising for over a decade

The breach of IDF’s Meitav website was almost inevitable, in light of inadequate attention to the need to protect sensitive personal information and the lack of supporting legislation in Israel.

Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler joins hosts Dahlia Scheindlin and Gilad Halpern to discuss the deteriorating relationship between politicians and the press, how media policy in Israel may infringe on the country’s relatively robust freedom of the press, and how a strong press in Israel threatens the current government.

The Israel Democracy Institute applauds Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to reevaluate the Facebook Law which was initially formulated to help fight terrorism, but evolved into a draconian law that could set back the Start-Up Nation decades in terms of freedom of speech.

Professor Yuval Shany discusses the seeming dissonance between Israel's advanced surveillance technology, the minimal restrictions on using it, and a citizenry that hardly cares– and why all this might have to change

Judiciary activism is neither easily defined nor easily measured. That said, it is important to clarify: Israel’s Supreme Court strikes down relatively few laws as compared with courts in other countries

When we use social networks, search engines or other online services on our computers or smartphones, we leave behind a long digital trail. The Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal should serve as a wake-up call to us all as to the implications.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal raises troubling questions about the colossal amount of personal data now available online. Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler says that states must take more aggressive action to protect individual privacy and prevent private entities from hijacking elections.


"Weak media leads to fake news"

David Zeev (Reshet Bet) talks to Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler, 

The panel: Is it Trump, Zuckerberg or US - Whose Fault is Fake News? was held at the Globes-Israel Business Conference in Jerusalem on January 11, 2018.

Last year the Democracy Index pointed to an all-time low in public trust in the media. However, in 2017 it seems that the trend has reversed. Why?

In Israel, we talk a lot about innovation. But what does the term really mean?

Elor Azaria’s case shows how online pressure by extremist voices can swiftly go viral in the Israeli mainstream, forcing politicians to choose: Play catch up or resist, but at great personal cost.

Ahead of a recent discussion by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on the “Facebook Bill,” IDI’s Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler wrote a policy statement in which she called the bill non-applicable to the modern day. She said the bill is likely to cause disproportionate censorship through what will be dysfunctional legal proceedings.

When a sizable portion of our decision-makers have that difficulty, and “digital illiteracy” becomes evident in the upper echelons where decisions are made, we’ve got a problem. This article was first published by The Jerusalem Post.

Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler says rejoicing over the death of television and the birth of “intervision” is premature. This column was originally published by Times of Israel.

Research Reel with Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler - The Military Censor in the Digital Age

The Oscar award-winning “Spotlight” captures the mix of frustration, joy, drudgery and thrill that goes into every great investigative story, reminding viewers of the power of investigative journalism to reveal the abuse of power in the public and private sectors. Could the Pulitzer-prize winning work of the Boston Globe be replicated today?

While in Israel there is no formal constitution, freedom of expression is inherent in our Basic Laws. Yet a recent episode between the Israeli government and the foreign press placed Israel in a problematic light and was neither democratic nor right.

How long will we continue to recite the mantra that “technology cannot be stopped?” To what extent will we take a stand and cease to permit bad social engineering? This article was originally published by The Jerusalem Post.

Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler reminds us that the media is the cement that holds the stones of democracy together. As the arbiter of reality, the purpose of the media is to show us, the citizens, what is going on around us. To the same extent, it is also supposed to reflect our feelings and our level of trust in the decision-makers and representatives whom we elect to govern us.

A summary of a legal opinion opposing the "Law for the Advancement and Protection of Print Journalism in Israel," which would prohibit the distribution of a full-sized daily newspaper in Israel free of charge.

IDI Researcher Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler analyzes a Supreme Court ruling that recalled a book and struck a balance between the right to privacy and the right to freedom of expression, and discusses larger questions of privacy in the digital age.

As Israel prays for the safe return of Gilad Shaar, Naftali Fraenkel, and Eyal Yifrach, Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler, head of IDI's Media Reform project, shares thoughts on the use of gag orders and military censorship in the digital age.

In a fiery op-ed, Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler responds to charges of bias and lays out IDI's pro-active agenda in favor of media diversity and transparency and its efforts to save the <em>Makor Rishon</em>  newspaper. 

On May 30th, 2012 Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein announced his intention to indict <em>Haaretz</em> journalist Uri Blau on charges of aggravated espionage for his role in the Anat Kamm affair. IDI Senior Researcher Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler, head of the Institute's Media Reform Project, responds to this decision.